Spring Fishing Off To Stubborn Start
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 03/20/2013
Kentucky Lake anglers have had to battle a rash of cold temperatures and annoying winds this week. Spring slipped in the door on Wednesday but winter weather has been reluctant to loosen its grip. Apparently the weatherman didn’t get the memo. Below average temperatures and bone chilling northwest winds teamed up for a stubborn start to the spring fishing scene. Despite challenging conditions some pretty decent stringers of crappie have been caught and stories of big bass catches continue to come in. Surface temperatures did climb slightly last weekend and have hovered around the 50 to 52 degree range but will likely fall back some as the weekend approaches due to the arrival of another uninvited cold front. Lake levels are pretty close to normal for this time of year and rose a few inches in the aftermath of some thunderstorms Monday. Elevation at Kentucky Dam will be in the 355.5 range this weekend. Upstream at New Johnsonville the reservoir is a bit higher with readings in the 356 range. Water color is showing some stain throughout the Paris Landing sector but still good for fishing. Up Big Sandy muddy water was entering the picture at midweek as a lot of runoff from Monday’s thunderstorms was influencing that area and portions of West Sandy. Crappie catches have been reported this week by anglers working the main lake drop-offs in the Paris Landing area where deep depths have been holding some fish due to cold surface temperatures. Some nice fish have been taken in depths of 20 to 25 feet and a few even deeper at times. Fish should begin to move up in the days ahead and occupy the top sides of the ledges or relate closer to the shelf itself. No doubt the cool conditions have kept schools of shad riding it out in deeper venues and the crappie have been following their forage. Last week’s Crappie USA tournament’s winning stringer (weighing 14.94 pounds) was taken up Big Sandy near Country Junction by anglers long lining jigs where suspended crappie where hanging out in midrange depths. The hefty stringer had seven fish that averaged over two pounds each with the big fish tipping the scales at 2.63 pounds! Other patterns such as drifting and spider rigging with multi-pole presentations have been fair producers as they worked the deeper river channels near the power lines and in West Sandy. Generally speaking, crappie have been scattered but given the nasty weather that isn’t too unusual as most anglers have been at the mercy of the wind. A few fish have been taken from midrange stakebeds and brushpiles in depths of 8 to 13 feet but fish there have been few and far in-between. Vertical presentations of 1/16 to 1/8-ounce jigs have produced a few when tipped with minnows or Berkley crappie nibbles but the best action there is yet to come. Productivity in the shallow to midrange structure will change quickly next week if warm weather arrives and sends surface temps into the mid 50’s. Baits of choice for a lot of the deeper patterns have been live minnows. Jigs have worked too with a few popular color combos getting attention such as blue/chartreuse, red/chartreuse, dark green/chartreuse, purple/clear and some mixed glitter tube skirts. Crappie are still in their prespawn phase and are behind where they were last year at this time as to their transition routes. While a few fish will begin entering bays and migrating toward shallow flats look for them to ride out the cool weather in deeper venues until a warm up occurs. Hefty stringers of bass continue to be caught by anglers tossing Alabama rigs, suspending jerk baits, and crawfish and shad colored crankbaits. While a few fish have been taken by anglers working those rocky points and gravel banks with crankbaits and suspending jerk baits, most of the bigger stringers are coming from off shore humps or feeder creeks that empty into deeper water at the mouth of large bays. Schools of bass have been staging in the deeper areas for several weeks and relating close to baitfish schools in the same spots. While a few fish have been taken on Rattle Traps most of the credit has gone to big deep diving crankbaits, suspending jerk baits and the popular Alabama style rig. Most tournament wins have required stringers to have an average weight over four pounds and several have been in excess of five pounds. And, several big largemouth have been caught that in the 7 to 8 pound range lately too. Those deeper patterns will hold up another week or so until warm weather sends bass toward shallow gravel banks, roadbeds, and mudflats in the backs of creeks.
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